Romance movies, though often dismissed by guys and by jaded, Gen-X women as "chick flicks," have nevertheless provided us with some of the greatest cinema moments of all time. (As well as, we must admit, a lot of crap.) We offer here just a sample of some of the great ones - watch for your own pleasure, or just to get in touch with your sensitive side. You won't regret it. Do, however, keep tissues nearby (especially for Love Story). And guys, remember, the only thing sexier than a man who likes romance movies is, well, a man who likes movies about gladiators and guns and big trucks.

1. CASABLANCA (1942)

There's a good reason why so many people know the lines, "Play it again, Sam," and, "Here's looking at you, kid." They've had the good fortune of watching Casablanca - one of the greatest love stories ever committed to celluloid. This is as classic as it gets: black & white, set in Morocco at the time of the Nazis, with a studly leading man and a gorgeous dame. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, for God's sake!

Here's the story: Bogart owns the coolest bar in Casablanca (which is nominally run by the Nazis, but operates more like the black market). Who should arrive but a famous leader of the Resistance, looking to bail out of Europe before the Krauts have their way with him. Of course Bogey is the only guy who can help. The clincher is that Resistance Guy is now heavy with Bogart's former love interest, Ingrid. So, does our grizzled hero do the right thing and help Resistance Guy, or does he get himself out of Casablanca with Ingrid on his arm? Find out on an airport tarmac as the Nazis close in!

Like Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca is still cool after all these years - the black and white cinematography is far more elegant than Technicolor, and the dialogue here is restrained and cynical, unlike the stilted monologues typical of so many films from the forties. But hey, if we think we're cynical now, just remember that this flick was shot in 1942 - times just don't get much worse than that.


  • The famous line, "Play it again, Sam," is never actually said. The line is, "Play it, Sam. Play it."

  • Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Supporting Actor

  • Won 3 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay

  • Placed #2 on the American Film Institute's "100 Greatest Movies" List


The English Patient is revolutionary in a very important and often overlooked way. This is one of the few war movies in which, to paraphrase another great war romance, the troubles of two little people amount to more than a hill of beans. In the classic mold, heroes are people who endure enormous personal sacrifice for the greater cause: for instance, in Saving Private Ryan, tens of thousands of soldiers give up their lives for the Allies. (Of course, there the heroes go off to save just one guy, Private Ryan, but anyhow, you see our point.)

In this film, however, we hear Ralph Fiennes say, - as perhaps no one else in the world could - "To hell with the greater cause!" In other words, who cares about arbitrary geopolitical disagreements wreaking havoc in the world? The only thing that matters is the love of two people. You can choose your soulmate, but you can't choose your country. A compelling argument.

The movie is beautifully filmed. The North African landscapes are breathtaking, shot from the awesome perspective of biplanes above. In fact, this film is so magnificently filmed that the two storylines - the romance at its height before the war and the dying embers of it at the end of the war - are intertwined visually as well as thematically: the undulations of the desert dissolve perfectly into the folds of the English patient's bed. Amazing.

The dialogue is also wonderful, as we hear Ralph, in his always proper yet curmudgeonly way, constantly kvetching about the state of things. In many ways, the personal demeanor of his character is not far removed from the Nazi he played in Schindler's List, the role that jump-started his career as a movie star. At any rate, he's the perfect actor to carry off this anti-epic. Of course, Kristin Scott Thomas also does an excellent job - and if you want to appreciate this movie even more, just consider this: when funding was low, some pasty studio execs threatened to put Demi Moore in the lead. Talk about a tragedy narrowly averted.


  • Nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Actress

  • Won 9 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche), Cinematography, Score, Art/Set Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing, and Sound

3. LOVE STORY (1970)

All right, we know, even the title of this film is mushy. But it lets you know exactly what you're in for: two people fall in love, they face challenges, they stay in love. And yet, Love Storybecame a huge hit, making more money than any other movie released in 1970. What's its secret?

First, it starred two young and beautiful people: Ryan O'Neal (as Oliver) and Ali MacGraw (as Jennifer) play students at Harvard and Radcliffe. Second, the two characters fight a lot throughout the movie, a la Tracy and Hepburn, so their relationship is more fun than saccharine. Finally, the movie doesn't pretend to be anything more than it is: a simple, modern love story, from beginning to end (so straightforward, even the title leaves nothing to the imagination). It also helped that it had a kick-ass tag line: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

If you're looking for a movie filled with sweeping cinematography and subtle motives, go rent something else. Don't complain that it's too sentimental or too "girly." It's supposed to be that way, so get over it. Within the romantic flick genre, it's right there at the top. It struck such a chord with filmgoers that the movie and three of its stars were nominated for Oscars.

By the way, its musical score is also famous . . . after the movie came out, the song "Theme from Love Story" was so huge that lyrics were added in later to make it more song-like. You'll recognize it right away.


  • Nominated for 7 Academy Awards (including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Actress)

  • Won 1 Academy Award: Best Score

  • Won 5 Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture and Actress

  • Author Erich Segal based the character of Oliver on a combination of Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones, who were roommates while students at Harvard

  • Ali MacGraw's knit stocking cap became a fashion craze (remember, this was the seventies)

4. TITANIC (1997)

First of all, we're gonna give away the ending: the boat sinks at the end. But you already knew that, didn't you, you cheeky monkey? And we're not gonna pretend that you haven't heard of Titanic. It's made more money than any other movie. Ever.

Bare bones plot: Rose (Kate Winslet) is engaged to Cal (Billy Zane), and they're first-class passengers on the doomed ship Titanic in 1914. Also aboard is Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), a ragamuffin who won his ticket on a poker hand. Rose does not love Cal (she's marrying him for his money). Our heroine is so depressed with her life, and the prospect of a loveless marriage, that she considers ending it all. Luckily for her, scrawny teen heartthrob Leo turns up and convinces her that there's more to life than men with facial hair. Guess what? They fall in love! Enter romantic violins. But that's only the first half. Titanic hits an iceberg and starts sinking . . . and there aren't enough lifeboats. Who will make it? (We know, but we're not telling.)

The most remarkable thing about Titanic is that even though it's the most expensive movie ever made (and you can tell: the boat, costumes, special effects, everything is AMAZING), all of that money is really in the background, allowing the romantic storyline to dominate. Even director James Cameron commented that what he'd made was "a $200 million chick flick." Why do you think that 13-year-old girls went so ga-ga over it? It definitely wasn't the sound effects editing. . .

Titanic may not be edgy or present any new ideas, but as Roger Ebert said (he's the fat one), you don't choose the most expensive movie in history to reinvent the wheel. Titanic is good, solid entertainment, with just a few holes to keep things interesting.


  • Nominated for 14 Academy Awards (including Best Actress and Supporting Actress)

  • Won 11 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, Art Direction, Score, Song, Costume Design, Editing, Sound, Sound Effects Editing, and Visual Effects

  • The most expensive movie ever made, said to cost over $200 million

  • The most successful movie of all time, earning over $600 million


Toward the beginning of the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally..., Harry (Billy Crystal) tells Sally (Meg Ryan) that men and women can never be friends, because the sex part always gets in the way. But it doesn't really turn out that way for our two protagonists. The movie takes place over the course of the seventies and eighties, during which Harry and Sally meet and become friends, meet several more times, and deal with huge amounts of sexual tension. We, the noble viewers, know that they're perfect for each other. But Harry and Sally are so paranoid about relationships that they just don't see it.

As you can tell, this film does not have guns, explosions, or even a stray offscreen beheading. It's a lot of talking, but it's some of sharpest dialogue you'll ever hear in a movie, and all of it's funny. (The script is by Nora Ephron, who went on to make another romantic film with Meg Ryan, Sleepless in Seattle.) Sally is the emotional center of the film, trying to keep Harry as a friend but afraid that the sex part will get in the way and destroy the friendship. Because of this constant tension, the movie feels very realistic. Platonic friendships (particularly where both parties are single) are hard to manage, and this movie hits it right on the head.

If you're not so hot about the romance angle, don't worry, because as a comedy the film is equally classic. In the most famous scene, Sally proves to Harry how well women can "fake it," by demonstrating in a crowded deli. There are other great scenes too, featuring a warped game of Pictionary, Sally's unique process of ordering a meal in a restaurant, and her less than pitch-perfect singing voice.

When Harry Met Sally... occasionally comes off as a little too New York-ish - you half expect Jerry Seinfeld to walk in at any moment. But Seinfeld was funny, right? So we recommend that you give this one a chance.


  • Nominated for 1 Academy Award - Best Screenplay (they was robbed)

  • Made over $90 million . . . a lot of dough for a talky, sorta intellectual romance movie

  • Meg Ryan's first hit